Day 846

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Simba Muzira, son of Sara Muzira.
Exhibition of Art, Long Gallery, Maudsley Hospital. London.
Simba Muzira. Doing it again.

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Spray paint. Street art. Bold statements. Clear expressions. Innocent eyes. Pure soul.
Courage. Suffering. Passion.

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Pigeons telling him not to wear his shoes. Pigeons everywhere! No words!

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A mother’s tribute to her talented son who died at 32 after living with mental illness for a few years, in and out of the hospital. Her accounts of doing things in his best interest which turned out otherwise. Her heartbreak at having to live away from him when he was too ill to be at home. Her sense of an utter waste of a young life full of promise. Her guilt. Again and again. Her love. Immeasurable.

I salute you. Sara and Simba Muzira.

 

Day 842

A Psychiatrist recently expressed his point of view- “If I take everyone who tells me they want to end their lives seriously, I would have to admit almost everyone I see to hospital. What we need is for people to be able to verbalise how they feel rather than dash straight to a perceived solution.” I suppose he means it would be helpful if everyone had an emotional vocabulary, a way of describing how they feel – happy, worried, excited, frustrated, scared, wretched, rotten, hopeless, angry…  a process that ideally should start when we’re kids. Just like we learn to identify objects and name them, we should develop the ability to identify our feelings and name them.

“If you’re happy and you know it…clap your hands.”
“If you’re happy and you know it, hug a friend.”
“If you’re sad and you know it, cry a tear – “boo-hoo.”
“If you’re mad and you know it, use your words “I’m mad.”
“If you’re scared and you know it, get some help, “HEEELLLLPPP!”
“If you’re silly and you know it, make a face, “BBBBLLLUUUUHHHH!”

“A large and more complex feeling vocabulary allows children to make finer discriminations between feelings; to better communicate with others about their internal affective states; and to engage in discussions about their personal experiences with the world”
– Centre on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL)

Adults can proactively teach young children to identify their feelings and those of others. Through stories, modelling and role play they can pair an emotion with a coping strategy, for example, taking a deep breath when angry; requesting a break when annoyed, talking to someone when sad. Positive emotions may need to be regulated too.

When I was young, feelings didn’t get much attention. They were often set aside, ignored or suppressed. They didn’t seem to be important. They came and went and changed all the time. So, it was easy to not hang on to them. Doing, behaving, achieving and knowing were important. They were tangible and afforded rewards. So, it was easy to focus on them. I didn’t have an emotional vocabulary. I didn’t know there was such a thing. I didn’t know many people who had it. Now I am learning.

Ref:

The feelings song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsISd1AMNYU

On Monday when it rained: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOhwGmxDPl8

http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/modules/module2/handout6.pdf

Day 841

His bathroom has 3 lights, one on top of the mirror and the other 2 on the ceiling. The switch for the mirror light is just underneath the mirror. The switch for the ceiling lights is outside the bathroom door. I sometimes found the mirror-light switched on, on the way to his room even when he wasn’t there. I would tell him off for repeatedly forgetting to turn the light off after use. Now, it is my bathroom. I still find the mirror light on sometimes when I go upstairs, even if I haven’t been there for hours.

It is so easy to forget to turn the mirror-light off. I know that now.

I would arrange mail-order deliveries for the times when he would be home. Sometimes he would be in his room on the second floor and fail to open the door for them, especially if they came very early in the morning. We would then have to go around chasing our parcels. Again, I would get a bit annoyed with him for missing out on the deliveries.

Now we sleep in his room. One morning last week, I almost didn’t hear the deliveryman’s knock on the door. I thought I heard something like a knock in my sleep but disregarded it, believing it to be a dream. An identical sound came again and nudged me out of my slumber. Had the man not had enough patience, he would have left us a note and gone to his next destination. But I did manage to bundle myself up and roll myself down the stairs in a semi-comatose panic to get to the door just in time.

It’s so easy to miss a delivery. I know that now.

 

Day 840

They met on a bus, got along, got together and after a while things turned somewhat strange. They thought they wanted to erase each other’s memory from their minds. They thought it would help with the suffering, the pain. The memory was successfully erased, yet they met again, on a beach this time, got along, … “How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.” Even after their minds forgot, their beings felt their connection, simply by being themselves and vibrating at their natural frequencies.

Yes, we watched ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ today.

I want to hoard each and every one of our memories. Erase nothing. I keep going back to Facebook to look at more pictures, his friends, their happy times, their life, their love.

A post from his first Anniversary:

“One year. It’s been one year today. One year since the lives of the many people you came into contact with had changed. A year where we’ve come together, grieved together, helped each other understand or at least try to understand the little we all knew. A year where we pushed on with our lives, hearing of other tragedies occurring around the world but not really caring as much as the day we lost you. A year where we tried harder and harder to make people aware of these mental illnesses and their symptoms so others don’t find themselves with the same heartache we felt. A Year where money has been raised for research to stop people from slipping through the cracks, yet some still do.. It’s been a year. A year of many changes. But even with all these changes there have been a few things that stayed the same. Our image of you. Our living memories of you, Our undivided love towards you.

Saagar Naresh, you are missed my old friend.
we’ll meet one day and have a much needed catch up. Xx”

– Juan Muriel Escudero

 

 

Day 838

“How are you?”
There is no short answer. Often, there is no answer.
This question comes up walking past friends and acquaintances in corridors. All I can say in the given time is, “Fine. Thanks. And you?” All I can do is acknowledge the question, smile and nod. It’s like saying ‘Hello’. No one actually finds out how anyone is doing or feeling.

It’s been 2 years 3 months and 3 weeks. It could be said ‘enough’ time has passed. For who? Who decides how much time is enough? Traditionally bereavement has been a personal and private process. Does it mean that as a society we would generally prefer it to be personal and private? Other’s sadness can make us feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, not knowing what to say or do. The path of least resistance is to not mention death or the deceased at all. There is a fervent desire that the bereaved will adjust and move on per a set timetable, not only for their own sake but also that of others.

The Bible says:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

  • Book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Never assume someone’s mourning is over and done with. It takes its own time.

Day 835

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The sensitive ones feel deeply, love deeply, hurt deeply. In this hard world, they are forced to grow an armour of steel but inside they are soft and bruise easily. They suffer not only their own angst but also the pain of everyone around them, especially those they love.

They make good mimics and actors because they can literally put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It is their keen observation and empathy that enables them to imitate others accents and actions to perfection.

They make good musicians because their ears and brains are superbly tuned to their heart-strings and they can truly feel the music.

They make good friends as they are loyal, honest and true. Simple things mean a lot to them. Their purity and simplicity make them adorable.

Their sensitivity is the source of their passion and compassion, creativity and a deep appreciation of the small things in life, keen awareness and a vivid inner life.

They suffer deeply when betrayed, rejected or devalued. They fret over misunderstandings and unresolved issues.

All they want is to love and be loved.

The world needs more sensitive people but sadly, hasn’t learnt to value them enough.

drumming

 

Day 834

Zombified, after 10 hours of intense work, I walk to the station. Someone stops me and tells me something about a special offer of a makeover, a photo shoot or something like that for any day within the next 6 months. I can’t fully comprehend it. It’s not the kind of thing I would normally sign up for but I am too tired to think and it sounds like fun.

A few days later I mention it to Si. He’s not at all sure about it. He wants to know more. I can’t give him any more details as I actually don’t know exactly what I have signed up to and partially paid for. We mark the date in our diaries, he much more reluctantly than me. Then a business trip comes up and it has to be postponed. The same thing happens again. Then I loose the vouchers. They say, that’s enough. It’s off. Thank God! A few days later, a call to say they have thought about it and they would like us to come for it anyway.

Today’s the day. Si and I find ourselves frantically sorting through clothes and shoes while gobbling down tea and toast this morning. We load up the car and rush into town only to find major road closures to make space for a Charity 10K run. A long diversion later we get there 40 minutes late but to our dismay they can slot us in an hour later. That hour is well spent in a cozy café nearby having jasmine tea and Halloumi salad, recovering from the long, slow drive through the narrow streets of London.

Warm welcome. Comfy furniture. Brightly lit. Spacious. Chilled out. Chatty, friendly people. Creative calm space. A few changes of clothes. A lot of laughs. Sharing travel stories. Smiles. Hugs. Cups of tea. Reflectors. Flashes. The shh-shh of the shutter. Strangely decorated rooms. Fancy backdrops. Luxurious sofas. Complements. Fun. Si loved it. Phew!

Trying out something new together. Highly recommended.